Hello all! Welcome to my FIRST fanfiction - 'The Troubles with Youth'! Now, I must warn you now, I'm a massive fan of fantasy, so you'll be seeing some out-of-the-ordinary happenings that don't appear in the real Ranger's Apprentice series. If you can't appreciate that, read no further.

There will also be some extreme out-of-character scenes about Halt, who happens to be my absolute favourite character (I can guarantee almost all of my future Ranger's Apprentice fanfictions will include him). There will most likely be some spoilers for book eight, so you've been warned. Please enjoy!

This story is set after Book Nine, but could pass for post-series (does that even make sense?).

Please don't forget to review! Being a new fanfiction author, I appreciate ANY input.

Disclaimer: I do not in any way own the rights to the legendary series of Ranger's Apprentice (John Flanagan does, however).

Abelard whinnied softly as Will rode Tug up beside him. The young Ranger dismounted his shaggy pony and moved to stroke his mentor's horse.

"Hullo boy," he crooned. "How are you? Where's Halt?"

Abelard whinnied again, almost informatively, and Will wished, not for the first time, that horses could talk.

Halt had been missing for at least two weeks after setting out on a mission to track down a solo criminal, and Abelard was the first sign Will had found of his former mentor. Will's heart lifted considerably. He'd been extremely pessimistic since he started searching for Halt yesterday. Compared to what the legendary Ranger usually did, this should've been a laughably simple assignment, yet he hadn't been seen since he first left. Naturally, Will was more than a little worried. What if something terrible had happened to Halt? What if he was lying somewhere on the forest floor, injured, or worse?

Of course he isn't! He's Halt the Ranger, Will thought, he couldn't have been bested by a mere common criminal. The thought was a little ignorant, but it was, in a way, mostly true. Halt could probably handle a simple thief or bandit with his eyes closed. The case would likely be that he simply needs a bit of a hand with this one. Will left Tug beside Abelard and ventured into the forest on foot. His soft leather boots barely made a sound on the snow as he went. Every few minutes he'd stop and listen for any hints of another soul in the seemingly empty forest, then continue on his way.

After almost an hour of searching, he finally heard something. It was only a small sound – in fact, it could have just been an animal scratching about in the snow.

Still, Will now felt hopeful.

After all, there was no reason why it couldn't be Halt (apart from the fact it would mean the Ranger was getting sloppy); Abelard had been waiting on the edge of the forest, so he had to be in the area.

Will followed the sound through the trees, and as it came closer, it became more distinct. Eventually, he was led to the source, which was apparently hiding behind a tree. Will rounded it and...

His hope were dashed. He hadn't found Halt, of course.

But he did find a small boy, curled up at the foot of the large oak.


Yes, it was quite short. But the second chapter, which is written and waiting to be posted (and will be posted quicker the more reviews I get), is much longer. This was more of a preview-slash-prologue.